EA document appraises water firms’ environmental performance in 2015

The number of serious pollution incidents fell over 2014 and 2015, almost matching the record low of 2008.

The EA has released its 2015 summary of water and sewage companies’ environmental performance, offering a rundown of firms’ adherence to criteria such as the avoidance of pollution incidents, compliance with EA permits, and effective sludge disposal and use.

The Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) document this year highlighted star performers Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water. One firm, South West Water, was rated as poor by the report, a deterioration from the below average rating it obtained in 2014.

The complete document is viewable here.

Highlights pinpointed in the report summary include a large reduction in the number of total pollution incidents (category 1 to 3) for 2015 (1,742 compared to 2,358 in 2014).

The record low of category 1 serious pollution incidents (four in total) recorded in 2014 was again achieved in 2015. Only three category 1 serious pollution incidents were associated with sewerage, another record low.

There was also a further small reduction in the number of serious pollution incidents to 59 compared with 61 in 2014 and 88 in 2013. Overall performance here almost matched that of 2008, the sector’s best year in this respect. The sudden increase of 2013 has seemingly been an enigma – the EA had been unable to identify any common root cause for this spike at the time, which was attributed to a variety of things – factors were said to include inadequate monitoring and management and shortcomings in risk assessment.

Water firms also recorded their highest ever level of self-reporting of pollution incidents at 69%, up from 66% in 2014/

The report also said permit numeric compliance continues an overall trend for improvement since 2006, at 98.7%.

A new section appears in this year’s document on “flood and coastal risk management”, detailing plans to possibly introduce a flood metric in 2017.